YouTube’s New ‘Primetime Channels’ Put Millions of Streamers in Direct Competition with Cable TV

The next time you browse YouTube in the US, you’re as likely to come across a prank video from a top influencer as you are on your favorite cable TV show.

YouTube’s new Primetime Channels feature allows regular YouTube viewers to subscribe to up to 34 cable TV channels, including Showtime, Paramount+, AMC+ and Starz. Users can pick and choose channels (subscription price varies by channel) without subscribing to the YouTube TV plan, a $65 monthly plan that offers over 100 channels. For the moment, access the feature is limited to users based in the United States.

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The move pits successful independent YouTube channels against premium content from major Hollywood studios. YouTube is where teens go on social media watch the most video, eclipsing even TikTok. Hollywood’s challenge will therefore be to lure Gen Z audiences away from YouTube influencers with their own video content.

YouTube’s timing is perfect – for cable TV networks

Viewers will now see premium cable TV content through YouTube’s main interface rather than through its paid YouTube TV subscription environment.. Previously, some TV and movie studios might have been hesitant to mix high-quality studio shows with user-generated content. But in the global race to secure viewers, YouTube’s 2 billion monthly free users have proven impossible to ignore.

YouTube touts the new offering as a better way to showcase user-generated content related to (or complementary to) Hollywood’s premium content. Now, YouTube’s algorithms will aggregate independent TV and movie reviews alongside their Hollywood counterparts, allowing viewers to jump from those reviews directly to the show itself – no YouTube TV subscription needed – rather than to jump between different streaming platforms.

YouTubers compete for money, not mainstream TV influence

YouTube creators may revel in the perceived status boost that comes with being featured alongside premium cable TV content, but their audience already eclipses many of the most popular TV shows.

One of YouTube’s most successful creators, MrBeast, has 109 million subscribers and a comparable number of viewers for most of his videos. In contrast, Showtime’s season finale is critical acclaimed series yellow jackets attracted only 1.5 million viewers This year. The money followed those big ratings. YouTube creators win up to $55,000 per month, and a report claims that MrBeast earned $54 million just in 2021.

So far, YouTube hosts about 15 million content creators who post approximately 500 hours of content to the site every hour. As YouTube attracts more user-generated content and cable TV, these numbers are likely to increase.

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